The 330km special stage in Peru saw the field start in groups on a beach before heading into a demanding 100km stretch of sand dunes, taking competitors over 2000m above sea level for the first time on this year’s event, before finishing back in San Juan de Marcona. KTM rider Sam Sunderland had to be evacuated by helicopter after suffering an accident, having held a lead of over four minutes at the head of the overall standings with two wins in the opening three stages of the rally. The Briton sustained a back injury in the crash that was severe enough for doctors to rule out his continued participation in the event. It was Stage 4 that had turned last year’s Dakar Rally on its head, reigning winner Price crashed out of the event and 2018 has been no different. Sunderland felt a sharp pain in his back immediately, but carried on for another 5km before stopping again due to the pain and a lack of feeling in his legs, said KTM team manager.
Riders began the stage en masses in groups of fifteen departing at five-minute intervals, and it was those starting in the second bunch - including Van Beveren - that led the way for the majority of the stage. A happy Van Beveran quoted, “It’s really special". I told myself I had to be calm and wait for the moment to pass the riders in front of me. When we arrived in the dunes, I had the opportunity to come back. I’m happy because I came back and caught everybody and then I opened the way for more than one hundred kilometres in the end.”
Sunderland's exit has shaken up the order in the general classification, which is now led by Van Beveren after the Frenchman secured his second career Dakar stage win by five minutes. Husqvarna's Pablo Quintanilla took 2nd position and was followed by Honda's Kevin Benavides. KTM's Mathais Walkner took 4th position in the rally. Toby Price lost 13 minutes on the Yamaha rider but now sits sixth overall. Meanwhile India's Aravind Prabhakar took to 33rd position and CS Santosh has taken the 56th position overall.